Khap Panchayats and honour killings are scary. And so is Ronit Roy.
In Guddu Rangeela, Roy plays the Khap leader, Billu Pehalwan who makes parents shoot their adult children for daring to love someone outside their caste. If the families err, he kills young lovers himself with great relish. But when he is after one Rangeela (Arshad Warsi) who looks as old as Billu himself, it cuts no ice with the backdrop if you consider the inspiration – a real incident of honor killing involving the case of Manoj and Babli.
The film is based around quite a far-fetched idea. This well over 40 bridegroom, Rangeela, is running away with his young bride called Babli (Shriswara). So you see the two running across a bridge, hand in hand, while Billu stands with a rifle, taking aim. Babli gets shot. She stumbles and falls into the river below.
At this point, one should be weeping for the helpless, newly married couple. But it hardly makes any difference. A newspaper headline would be far more dramatic and effective. If Arnab Goswami were to highlight the incident on his show, you might even feel some outrage. But an entire two hour movie, written and directed by Subhash Kapoor, fails to move even for a minute.
NH10 did a far better job with a more realistic depiction of a young couple getting beaten up in the Haryana hinterland. Kapoor’s previous film, Jolly LLB, won a national award for the best feature film in Hindi and like Guddu Rangeela, had also been inspired by a real hit and run case of Sanjeev Nanda.
Babli’s death is simply a plot point used to make this film a revenge drama between Rangeela and Billu. Later, there is a twist which is completely over the top even by ‘filmy’ standards. There seems to be a parallel revenge tale of another girl called Baby (Aditi Rao Hydari). Baby first appears on screen as a dumb and deaf girl, kidnapped by Rangeela and his buddy Guddu (Amit Sadh of Kai Po Che fame). It's pretty evident that she is far from dumb. Baby is actually out to get her own personal revenge from Billu.
In between all the cat and mouse chase games in Shimla, Baby doesn’t mind sharing space with Guddu who is anything but a gentleman. His idea of romancing her is to ask her, ”degi?” Of course, she tells him to lay off. But once she warms up to him, he asks her again, “legi”? She actually smiles. Sadh is quite unsuitable for this role. Neither his looks or performance make him seem like a small time goon that he is. He cracks not so funny jokes and plays a khabri (informer) of robberies, while his partner in crime –Rangeela, dresses in garish costumes and sings at orchestras, with "maata ka email aaya hai”.
It takes a good half hour to establish the duo is caught between the corrupt cops and conniving paymasters. And quite honestly, the setup length adds more to boredom than to any authenticity.
The film then moves to familiar territory of the hero beating up the villain. The only difference is you don’t root for anyone, and the only good thing about the film is some decent acting by Warsi and Roy. Hydari and Sadh as a couple are quite redundant. Warsi, known for his comic flair, unfortunately does not have a single funny moment.
Meanwhile, the lack of any bro-mance chemistry between him and Sadh, makes the film even more dull. It's nothing like his previous pairing with Sanjay Dutt in Munnabhai MBBS or Naseeruddin Shah in Ishqiya.
It is finally left to Ronit Roy to maintain the tension and he does the villainous barking and glaring quite brilliantly. However, the actors’ brave efforts are not reason enough to watch the lackluster and colourless Guddu Rangeela. Arnab’s show is a better bet.